Last year I trained for the London Marathon, and wrote about every day of training. If you were following along, you may remember that Day 98, the actual race, didn't go quite according to plan.
It's hard to pinpoint the precise time it went wrong (actually that's not trie, you can see it on the map!) but a combination of focussing on pace, fuelling, and my taped-up knee meant that I wasn’t focussing on drinking water. By the time I was dangerously dehydrated, my brain wasn't capable of letting me know I was dangerously dehydrated. A decision to separate mind from body around mile 18, a skill I still think is invaluable, was in hindsight not the best solution.
Still, it kept me going to mile 23. And then I was on the floor. And then I was trying to get to my feet and then I was on the floor again and a steward was crossing out my race number, telling me my race was over.
And then I blacked out.
I woke up in an ambulance, asking if I was going to be ok and getting the reassuring response "we're making you comfortable". I was on a drip, my lovely National Portrait Gallery t-shirt rudely cut down the centre, and I was packed with ice like a rainbow trout.
I heard a paramedic say 41, and although I couldn't remember my date of birth or my home address, I still knew I was only 38 and so in my hot-bloodied slur corrected him. "No, that's your temperature". Don't google that.
Transferred to a resuscitation bay at The Royal London, hilarity ensued as I attempted to use my phone, repeatedly denying it was mine despite my fingerprint unlocking it. A nurse made some calls, and the amazing Lucy arrived to continuously change my sick bowl (BEST FRIEND EVER) and the amazing Liz arrived with a new t-shirt, although she was sad to see the hospital gown go I think.
Anyway. Skip-to-the-end, by the morning my temperature and levels were all back to normal, and after a week felt ok to nip out and do three miles, about the distance I had left to do.
Quite the experience, and it's hard to judge how an experience such as this affects you. It is true that it made me more determined than ever to complete a marathon. It is also true that I got a tattoo that in part symbolises the limbo between life and death. But I’m pretty sure that was a coincidence.
And so it comes to this day. This day was a new marathon in a new year in a new city. This was about putting that ghost to rest. And thanks the support of everyone around me, and to Brighton Marathon, I did.
It wasn’t as quick as I’d hoped (I came in at 4:05), but if it’s your first one then it’s a PB. And so this race brought my dream of finishing a marathon to a close, but the start of a new chapter in my life as a runner.